Storm Eunice leaves at least nine dead in Europe amid record wind speeds

Hundreds of thousands without power in UK as clean-up cost estimated at £300m

An Atlantic storm battered northwestern European on Friday with record winds of up to 196km/h (122 miles per hour), killing at least nine people, knocking out power for tens of thousands and shredding the roof of London’s O2 arena.

Storm Eunice, which brewed in the central Atlantic and was spun up from the Azores towards Europe by the jet stream, posed a danger to life, Britain's Meteorological Office said.

The storm hit western England, making landfall in Cornwall, where waves lashed the coast, sending plumes of spray over the roofs of cottages, Reuters pictures showed.

A woman was killed in London when a car in which she was travelling was crushed by a tree and a man in a vehicle in Liverpool died due to flying debris. Another man died after a vehicle collided with a fallen tree in the southern English county of Hampshire.

In the Netherlands, four people were killed by toppled trees. In Belgium, high winds brought a crane down onto the roof of a hospital and a British man died after being blown from his boat into the water.

In Ireland, A 59-year-old Wexford County Council employee was killed while clearing fallen debris from Storm Eunice on Friday.

High winds in London shredded the white domed roof of the O2 arena which has hosted stars from The Rolling Stones to Beyonce and Rihanna. Tall buildings in London trembled as wind whistled through Canary Wharf.

Hundreds of thousands of homes are still without power in the UK after the storm tore through the country, while insurers have indicated the clean-up could cost more than €360 million (£300 million).

"Storm Eunice is really packing a punch," Met Office chief meteorologist Frank Saunders said. "We only issue red weather warnings when we think there is a threat to life from the weather."

The Met Office said a gust of 196 km/h (122 miles per hour) was recorded at The Needles on the Isle of Wight, provisionally a record for the most powerful gust ever recorded in England.

Later on Friday, the Met Office said the fiercest winds from the storm were heading towards Scandinavia and northern mainland Europe where warnings had been issued.

Planes were buffeted so strongly by gusts at some British airports that pilots were forced to abandon landings. A live stream of Heathrow Airport’s runway was being watched by more than 200,000 people online.

A total of 436 flights were cancelled across the United Kingdom amid record winds from storm Eunice, according to Cirium data. Rail services were also affected.

Ferries were also cancelled and the storm caused widespread disruption to rail services across the UK.

“In the Netherlands, Schiphol airport cancelled about 390 flights, a spokesperson said.

Off the Belgian coast, two ships, one tanker and one cargo, were at one point adrift and got stuck in a windfarm. The cargo was safely towed away, without causing any damage, the tanker, carrying 31,000 tons of fuel, was still waiting for help. – PA/Reuters